Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Gay Unions Shed Light on Gender in Marriage

From the NYTimes:

"Notably, same-sex relationships, whether between men or women, were far more egalitarian than heterosexual ones. In heterosexual couples, women did far more of the housework; men were more likely to have the financial responsibility; and men were more likely to initiate sex, while women were more likely to refuse it or to start a conversation about problems in the relationship. With same-sex couples, of course, none of these dichotomies were possible, and the partners tended to share the burdens far more equally.

While the gay and lesbian couples had about the same rate of conflict as the heterosexual ones, they appeared to have more relationship satisfaction, suggesting that the inequality of opposite-sex relationships can take a toll.

“Heterosexual married women live with a lot of anger about having to do the tasks not only in the house but in the relationship,” said Esther D. Rothblum, a professor of women’s studies at San Diego State University. “That’s very different than what same-sex couples and heterosexual men live with.”

Other studies show that what couples argue about is far less important than how they argue. The egalitarian nature of same-sex relationships appears to spill over into how those couples resolve conflict."

K and I have always felt this. Even our most feminist of married friends fall into such gendered roles. It's nice that when we fight, we don't say "You're treating me like this because I'm a woman". And K and I both always feel that the other is doing more around the house, which keeps us motivated to keep up. There's no one who automatically dusts the living room or does the laundry. I cook because I want to, she vacuums because she wants to, and the rest we just divide up. Lots of people will say hetero relationships can be this way too, if they try, and I do believe that's true. But I think it's too easy to fall into roles that were spelled out long before. And just like this article says, the women in these relationships are bitter and resentful, but resigned because what choice do they have? And the men that we know are tired and stressed from having to make the financial decisions, and from working so many hours. I asked one friend why he felt the pressure to make all of the financial decisions himself, and he said he didn't want to bother his wife - she doesn't like finances. Well, I don't like finances either, but what choice do we have? With K and I, it's our life and we will make every single decision together. Every few months, after observing some of our hetero married friends, we say, "Thank god we're a same-sex couple..."

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